Are My Kids BRATS?

Are my kids brats?

brats-copyThe answer is . . . sometimes.

Last weekend was very bad.  I went back to work on Monday feeling totally defeated.  I mean, who wants to spend the weekend with bratty children, even when they are your own (or is it especially when they are your own?).

Forgive me for going on a small tangent.  My son is going to be 7 in a couple of months.  I have been dreading this age for years.  Having a little boy has been such a blessing.  Little boys just love their Mamas and he has always been the sweetest little guy.  Seven doesn’t sound like a “little boy” anymore.  The days of him wanting to sit on my lap while I read him a story will probably end soon.  My heart breaks thinking about it.

He has been going through a defiant stage lately, and it is very frustrating.  Last weekend, a lot of his time was spent in the time-out corner because he refused to do the simplest things he was asked.  He is also going through a copying everything I say phase.  It is really obnoxious and annoying.  I told him, “Whoever told you that copying everything someone says is funny or cute lied to you.”  He looked at me kind of confused and then shrugged me off.  At one point, I calmly and sincerely asked him to please stop copying me, and it did stop for a few days . . .

The Library

bratty children

Okay, back to last weekend.  Saturday morning, I took the kids to the local library.  We live near a small town, and I know the librarian fairly well.  It all started off rather perfectly.  The library is small, and there was only one other person in there.  There really is no rule about being super quiet – I often hear people having conversations at full volume.  We went to the kids’ section and I told them they could each pick out a book or two.  My daughter picked hers out right away.  I read to my kids a lot, and now my son has started reading.  So, we had some discussion about the books and then my daughter wanted me to read one of her books to her while my son picked out his last one.  The librarian was holding something for me I had ordered online, and the kids also wanted to pick out some movies.  Super duper.  She commented about how much my kids love books, and even gave me a “Good for you!”

While I was checking our items out, my kids started running around, chasing each other through the aisles.  They were told to stop, and they did, for a few minutes.  Then, they started again.  I stopped chatting with the librarian, gathered my stuff and told them it was time to go.  The library has a short hallway with a bathroom and a conference room.  My daughter started to follow me, while my son decided to go down the hallway instead of toward the exit.  I said, “I’m leaving.  Bye.”  This usually works, but in this case, it totally backfired on me.

My daughter freaked out.  I have never actually left them anywhere (because they usually come when I say I’m leaving).  In this case, she seemed to think I was really going to leave my son, so she started shouting his name!  In the library!  Good grief.  I said, “Linda’s not going to let me leave you here.”  Implying the librarian doesn’t want to be around bratty kids either.

I went down the hall toward the conference room, but discovered that my son was in the bathroom.  I discovered this when he yelled.

My kids know how to behave.  So far, we get glowing reports of their behavior at school and Sunday school.  They behave beautifully for other people, but they test the boundaries with my husband and me.  I’m told this is normal, but the testing on this day was off the charts.

I bent down and calmly and quietly said, “This is a library.  It’s not a place to yell.  I know you learned this in school.”  We all moved quietly toward the exit, as I mouthed, “Sorry!” to the librarian.  On the way to the car, I informed them that they would not be coming to the library again for quite some time.  In the car, on the way home, I threw in that the librarian knows all of my son’s teachers.  He was concerned about this.  Why does he care so much more about what other people think than his Mom?  Familiarity?  Again, I’m told it’s normal, but it is rather discouraging.

The Wedding

bratty children

That afternoon, my cousin got married.  My kids were fairly well behaved during the ceremony.  We got to the reception, and they would not sit still, spinning around, dangerously close to tripping people at times.  My patience was probably a little short from the experience of the library, the stress of getting everyone ready on time, etc.  So, it wasn’t long after we ate that I decided it was time to go.

I talked to my Mom the next day, and she said she thought they were fine.  Other kids were running around too.  I just hate for anyone to think my kids are bratty – yet here I am telling everyone on the internet that they are.  Give me a screwdriver.  I think I have a screw loose.

So, here was the problem.  My daughter really likes to dance.  She’s only been to one other wedding reception, and she got to dance at that one, so she was looking forward to it.  We left before the DJ started.  We got halfway to the car when she decided we were going back.  Visibility in this parking lot was not good, and she was about to run back through the parking lot.  When I wouldn’t let her, she started screaming and sat down.  I had to pick her up and carry her to the car.  She is almost 4.  Too old to act this way.  She also weighs over 40 lbs.  Not easy to carry, kicking and screaming.  Horrifying experience #2 concluded.

Church

brats

Sunday.  Church.  My son was being obnoxious.  My daughter wasn’t being too bad, until 25 minutes in, when an older couple asked to use two of the seven seats the four of us were taking up.  She started yelling something I couldn’t quite make out.  Yelling.  In church!  I gave her the big-eyed, clenched-jaw, “knock-it-off” look.  The yelling continued.  I whispered, “We do NOT yell in church.”  The yelling continued.  The whispered threats began.  “No playground.”   More yelling.  “No penny march.”  More yelling.  “No Kids’ church.”  “I don’t want to go to kids’ church!”  I looked at my husband who gave me the “What’s the problem?” face.  “I don’t know!”  He was in the aisle, so he carried her out.  They returned several minutes later, and she was quiet . . . until she realized she had missed the penny march.  It was time to take the kids out.  I carried her toward the back, but not before she could yell, crying, “I want to do the penny march!”

We went to the gathering area, where I sat her on my lap and explained that she missed the penny march because she was too naughty.  She told me she was yelling because she didn’t want those people to sit by us.  I explained that we can’t take up the whole row, and she was being rude.  Apparently she didn’t realize that kids’ church and Sunday School are the same thing.  I asked if she wanted to go to Sunday School and she was all over it.  “Yeah!”  With a nod, she jumped off my lap and scurried off to her Sunday School room where, I’m sure, she behaved perfectly.

Are We Bad Parents?

As I said, the weekend ended with me feeling totally defeated.  I questioned myself.  While I know we aren’t perfect, I thought we had good kids.  Is this what every weekend will be like for the next several years?  What are we doing wrong?  What can we do?

I prayed.  I went to work, feeling more exhausted than when I had left on Friday.  I decided to shake it off.  Maybe it was just a bad weekend.  What good does worrying do anyway?

Another weekend just concluded.  On Saturday, I spent two hours painting the basement, which we are in the process of finishing.  The kids hung out, and while there were moments of naughtiness, overall they behaved fairly well.  My husband was tiling the bathroom, so I decided to take the kids to lunch to get all of us out of his hair.  I gave them the choice of going to the playground in the afternoon or going to the drive-in that night.  They chose the movie.  Good.  Leverage for good behavior at the restaurant.  Any time they started to get out of line, they were reminded that there would be no movie if they behaved poorly.  They were quite good.  By the end of lunch, they had decided they wanted the playground instead.  Fine.  We went to a nearby playground.  My son objected slightly when it was time to go, but overall, they did what they were told, and left without too much of a fight.

Today – Sunday.  Church again.  We had a chat with my daughter in the car about no yelling in church, and whoever wants to sit next to us is free to do so.  I also talked to my son about sitting up and not flopping all over.  Good behavior.  Praise the Lord!

We went to lunch after.  Good behavior.  We went to the Family Christian store after.  We had a little chat before entering.  There are breakable items in the store.  There is to be no running around and no yelling.  Good behavior.

Lessons Learned

brats

Did all of the chats before the events this weekend cause the good behavior?  Possibly.  Was it the bribery of the playground or movie?  The threat of those things being taken away?  I’m not sure.

Regardless, the biggest lesson I learned – don’t let one bad weekend doom your thoughts about the future, convince you that you’re kids are brats, or make you feel you’re a bad parent.  Sometimes, it’s just a bad weekend.

 

Aquagear Giveaway

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Disclosure: Love, Mrs. Mommy and all participating bloggers are not held responsible for sponsors who do not fulfill their prize obligations. Love, Mrs. Mommy received an Aquagear Filter Pitcher at no cost to facilitate the above-mentioned review. This giveaway is in no way endorsed or sponsored by Facebook or any other social media site. The winner will be randomly drawn by Giveaway Tools and will be notified by email. Winner has 48 hours to reply before a replacement winner will be drawn. If you would like to participate in an event like this please contact LoveMrsMommy (at) gmail (dot) com.

 

12 Tips for Creating Quality Blog Content

12-tips-for-writing-quality-blog-contentI have been blogging for about six months, and I will be the first to admit, I am NOT a success in many ways.  According to most advisors, I have done many things wrong.  My traffic is not yet where I want it and I did not start my blog off with a bang!  That’s an understatement.  In fact, the appearance of my blog is still very simple (there are things I like about that, but I would like to get to a point where it looks more polished).

There is one area where I feel I have succeeded.  I post frequently, and I feel it’s quality content.  But, hey, I am biased.  I write about what I want to write about.

If you are a blogger with a specific niche, some of these tips may apply to you more than others.  I write about what inspires me, and I hope will inspire others, offer some useful information, and entertain.  I find myself in many roles, so I feel many people can relate to me.  The sky is the limit for my content.  However, I think even bloggers who write about very specific topics can find some of these tips useful.

It is very rare that I can’t find something to write about.  In fact, I’m often chomping at the bit to put out my next post.  For those of you who suffer from writer’s block, here are some ideas:

  1. Live Life
Live Life
Live Life

Blogging is a comparatively small part of my very busy life.  My happy moments, my frustrations, my epiphanies – these are all potential fuel for my next article.

  1. Try a Challenge

I read about a challenge of writing something that began with each letter of the alphabet every day.  I was not interested in writing a post every day, but I thought trying to write something that had a word in the title of each letter of the alphabet would keep me going, and stretch me creatively.  It worked.  As I have said before, it made for some weird titles at times, but I don’t mind weird.

  1. Stay Inspiredinspiration

I listen to KLOVE quite a bit, mainly because the music and stories lift my spirits.  I started twitter a short time ago.  I did not like it at all at first, but I have finally embraced it, and now I get inspiration from it.  I often choose to follow pages because I feel the relationship will help me to grow my blog in some way, but I also choose to follow some simply because it seems their posts will be positive.

I have always been a big reader, but I don’t have the time to read as much as I used to.  I find time to read a few pages here and there.  It can take me months to finish a book, but I keep at it.  In those stolen moments of reading just a few pages, I can find something that lingers in my mind for a day or two that eventually develops into an article.  I read the Bible every morning.  Sometimes, it may only be a paragraph, but even that small quantity often sticks with me, and keeps my mind working.

I read many other blogs as part of blogging groups, as an avenue to promote my blog (I’m sure most bloggers can relate).  There are so many that I genuinely enjoy!  Sometimes, reading a post makes me think of something to write about.  Obviously, don’t plagiarize.  I’m talking about taking a little nugget from someone’s post that takes my mind to something related, but original.

  1. Self-reflection

As a historically anxiety-ridden person, this is all too easy for me.  I used to constantly question and criticize myself.  I do still often reflect on how I handled situations, but I am much more kind to myself.  Could I have handled that situation better?  What did I do well?  What impacted my reaction?  All potential posts.

  1. Find the Inspirational and Relatable in the Little and Big Thingsfirst-steps

When you have kids, I think the small things become amplified.  Millions upon millions of children have taken their first steps and learned to use the toilet.  But, when it’s your little walker and pooper, it’s a big deal.  Other parents can relate.

In the big scheme of things, making a perfect pie crust is not going to create world peace, but since many people struggle with this aspect of baking, it can become inspirational and relatable.

  1. Just get started.

I can’t tell you how many times I had just the germ of an idea, but decided to start writing even if it was not fully developed.  The act of starting got my writing juices flowing and some of those have been my most successful posts.

  1. Be Honest.authenticity

Being honest does not mean you have to disclose everything.  You have total control over what you decide to put out there.  That said, people will find you more interesting if you share how you learned from doing it wrong the first time, than if you just talk about how you do everything perfectly and great every time.

  1. Keep a List

I still use a paper planner.  I know – I am a dinosaur.  But, it has some blank pages in the back where I can jot down an idea whenever it comes to me.  Whether it’s your phone, or a spiral notebook, have a way to record an idea right away before it escapes!

  1. Get Uncomfortable!

Write about something totally outside of your expertise that requires you to do some research.  Other lay people will appreciate and benefit.

  1. Relax and Stop Thinking so Muchrelax

When I was working on the alphabet challenge, sometimes I would get stuck on a letter.  While thinking about it, I would come up with the posts for the next three or four letters.  I would write those down and use them later, so it was not a waste.  An idea would come to me when I wasn’t thinking about it, and I would try to come up with new titles for that idea that would fit in with the challenge.

    1. Take Lots of Photos

12-tips-for-writing-quality-blog-content

I have young kids, so I take many pictures.  Sometimes, I can look at them, think about what was going on when I took the picture, and an idea for an article comes to mind.

  1. Shelve It

trashI had an idea for a post about funny things kids say a while back.  I asked bloggers, and then non-blogger friends for stories.  Some of the stories were very funny, but they just weren’t coming together.  A great relationship with another blogger came out of my request for stories.  While I never did write the article, I did feature just her story on my blog.  In addition, she and I have worked together on some other things.  Don’t be afraid to abandon an idea.  Good things can still come from the process.

 

 

Scary to be a Christian in Public School?

People who aren’t Christians think we’re overreacting to the worldwide negativity toward our faith.  From major atrocities like Christians beingimg_3362 beheaded, to minor things like my son’s Christmas program now being called a Winter Concert, we can become disheartened.

I thought some might like to hear a positive story.  My son made this cross in Sunday school this week.  I thought it was really cool.  To my surprise, he put it on as he got ready for school on Monday.

My husband was understandably concerned.  You hear stories about kids getting in trouble for less.  He wasn’t sure that was allowed in public school these days.  I told him that I had seen teachers in his school district wearing cross necklaces, so I thought it would be okay.

I was concerned too, but for a different reason.  What if he was made fun of?  I mean, the cross looked huge on his little body.  My concern was that he would have a bad experience sharing his faith at such a young age, and it would make him reluctant to do so again.

But, I thought, I am not going to discourage him from doing this.  It’s a wonderful thing that he wants to!  So, I told him I thought it was great, and prayed for the best.

That evening, I asked if anyone had said anything about his cross.  He said that some people asked him where he got it.  He told them he made it at church.  The teacher’s aide in his class told him she liked it!  It all worked out far better than I could have imagined.

Philippians 4:6  “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.”

 

Is it a Talent or a Skill? Does it Matter?

Let’s get the definitions out of the way.  Dictionary.com provides several definitions for talent, but the two that apply here are:

  1. a special natural ability or aptitude:  a talent for drawing.
  2. a capacity for achievement or success; ability:  young men of talent.

Applicable definitions for skill:

  1. the ability, coming from one’s knowledge, practice, aptitude, etc., to do something well:  Carpentry was one of his many skills.
  2. competent excellence in performance; expertness; dexterity:  The dancers performed with skill.

If you dissect these, there really isn’t a whole lot of difference.  Both involve aptitude.  The definition for talent seems to focus more on a natural ability, while skill mentions knowledge and practice.

talent

I have some natural singing ability, but it was never developed very far.  I didn’t always feel I had a natural ability to train and coach others, but with the right mentoring, practice and motivation, I became quite skilled at it.  Dare I say, even talented?  The natural ability had to be there to develop those skills, maybe it was just buried a little deeper.

skill

When it comes to drawing, I have zero talent.  However, I do remember a particular art project in junior high, when I was actually recognized for a job well done.  The assignment was to use colored pencils.  The teacher specifically said to make sure the coloring was even.  I drew a cat in front of a fire place.  I took great care in the coloring.  For someone with talent, this probably could have been done easily.  For me, it was tedious work.  But, my ability and willingness to follow directions and work hard compensated for my lack of artistic ability.

Recently, at work, I was charged with the task of designing and ordering a new safety sign.  I often joke that I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler.  In this case, I also asked one of the Engineers if I could have some graph paper.  Even with this, I had to explain to the vendor that the drawing was not 100% to scale.  The vendor was out of state, and all of the communication was via email and telephone.  I sent some photos of the previous sign and examples of signs similar to what I wanted.  While my drawing left something to be desired, I compensated with my communication skills, and got exactly what I wanted.

By the way, my 3-year-old thinks I’m pretty good at drawing.  Kids can be good for building our egos at times.  In reality though, I know that I am not.

My perception of the difference between a talent and a skill really is how immediately apparent the ability is.  I think of a talent as something that comes very easily, while a skill is something that takes more work, but can be developed to a high level of competence.

Now on to the topic of enjoyment.  We usually think that people enjoy things that come easily to them.  That may or may not be true.  If it comes too easily, we may become bored.  If it’s an activity that’s unethical, we may become conflicted.  On the other hand, if it comes easily, but we find ways to continue to challenge ourselves, it may become a lifelong passion.  I argue that this can also be true for things that don’t initially come so easily.

By now, you may be thinking, get to the point, woman! I do have a point, and I think it’s a pretty good one.

Try new things, that take you out of your comfort zone.  That’s how you grow.  You may find an ability that wasn’t apparent, but can be developed into something great.  If you’re not so good at it, you may still enjoy it.

exercise

I can’t dance – at all!  I have trouble keeping up in aerobics class (there’s always the back of the room, or exercising to a DVD at home!).  But, my daughter’s talent in this area became evident at 1-year-old.  She had no way of learning some of her moves; she was just born with them.  While I have no talent, I still enjoy dancing with her, and she loves it when I do.

You may feel discouraged that you have talents you aren’t using.  Maybe you’re a stay-at-home Mom, and you feel your corporate skills are going to waste.  You may be working in a job that isn’t in your field.  I think God always puts us where he wants us.  You can take solace in the idea that you may be able to use those skills again and/or you’re developing some new skills.  If it’s really distracting you that your talents are going to waste, it may be time to create a new opportunity for yourself.  That’s how I started blogging, and it takes a variety of skills (far more than just writing) well beyond what I ever imagined.

As I write this, Steven Curtis Chapman’s (love him) song, Do Everything keeps running through my mind.  Here are some of the lyrics:

You’re picking up toys on the living room floor
For the fifteenth time today
Matching up socks
Sweeping up lost cheerios that got away

You put a baby on your hip
Color on your lips and head out the door
While I may not know you,
I bet I know you
Wonder sometimes, does it matter at all?
Well let me remind you, it all matters just as long

As you do everything you do
To the glory of the One who made you,
‘Cause He made you,
To do
Every little thing that you do
To bring a smile to His face
Tell the story of grace
With every move that you make
And every little thing you do

Maybe you’re that guy with the suit and tie
Maybe your shirt says your name
You may be hooking up mergers
Cooking up burgers
But at the end of the day

Little stuff
Big stuff
In between stuff
God sees it all the same

Be encouraged.  It matters.  I’m guessing you’ve got hidden abilities, whether they be talents or skills, you haven’t even thought of yet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stainless Steel. I Hate You. I Hate You. I Hate You. Drop Dead.

img_3341-copy

I rarely post cleaning tips, because it’s just not an area at which I excel.  So, when I find something worth sharing, that’s saying something.

If you don’t want to read my ramblings, and just want the tip, skip to the bottom.  There are four people who like my ramblings, and two others who may be able to relate (these statistics are approximate), so the ramblings are for those six individuals.

We built a house and moved in about 3.5 years ago.  Prior to that, we lived in a condo that I purchased when I was single.  It had an average, old style, white fridge.  Actually, below average, because it was on the small side.  I miss it sooooo much.  With the exception of the handle (which I cleaned slightly more frequently) and dusting off the top from time to time, I washed it about three times a year.  It just never looked dirty.  As they say, you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone. Of course, I didn’t have kids or animals much of the time that I lived there, so that made a difference, too.

Like everyone, we just had to have stainless steel appliances when we built our new house.  I was complaining about cleaning my stainless steel appliances to a Contract Appliance Sales Professional friend a couple years ago (I will complain about this problem to anyone who will listen).  I whined about the fact that everyone thinks they need stainless steel appliances because they’re high end – and why do we all think we need to be high end anyway?  He pointed out that when it was truly the high end homes that had these, the owners didn’t have to clean their own appliances.  Duh.  Joke’s on me.

We bought LG, which I thought was a decent name brand.  I’m not saying it isn’t.  But, I have had a few issues with the fridge, in addition to it being hard to clean.  Also, all of the appliances are LG, stainless steel, but they have different finishes.

My hatred began from the first time I tried to clean them.  We bought a couple different stainless steel cleaners.  First of all, they aren’t really cleaners, but polishers.  So, you have to clean the fridge and then polish it?  Maybe if you live alone, you can get by with just polishing.  But, when you have food on the fridge from people getting things while they’re cooking, palm prints from little hands, and dog slobber on the door, polishing alone just ain’t gonna cut it.  Welcome to my messy, dirty, gross life!

I had also tried a commercial level polisher.  Even after first cleaning the fridge, wiping the polish off, and then going back with a clean towel to actually polish, as the directions said, it was still streak-city!

I have tried bees wax, the Lysol lemon cleaner I use for everything, Windex and vinegar.  A sales person at an appliance store even told me Pledge worked best.  Some things worked better on one appliance than another, but the fridge . . . the fridge!  The fridge!  THE FRIDGE!!!!!!!  STILL HAD STREAKS.

I’m starting to sound a little crazy.  Deep breath.

So, on top of all of our other responsibilities, we are landlords.  We rent out the condo with the white fridge.  When our last tenants moved out, they left a lot of junk behind for us to dispose of, including some odd-sized tires that we had to make special arrangements to have picked up.  They also left behind a gem.  img_3344 I do not feel the slightest bit guilty about keeping it because: They had been given the date to have everything out multiple times.  All signs indicated that they knew what they had left.  They had left us with a lot of cleaning, so at least they left us some supplies!

I tried this on glass, it’s intended purpose, and it’s A-MAZING.  It’s a foam, so it doesn’t run down the glass as you’re cleaning.  (I am not receiving compensation for this post – I wish!).

On a whim, I tried it on the fridge.  I wish I could sing to you right now.  Maybe I should start posting videos on my blog.  Anyway, no streaks!  You saw the photo, above with words.  Frankly, the photo doesn’t do it justice (it’s hard to take pictures of stainless steel because of all the glare.  Maybe it’s because it’s so streak free!  It just reflects everything!).

This is after a two minute wipe down, instead of my usual 15 minute ritual of cleaning two to three times (without the words this time).

img_3341

I have not had to buy this yet.  I still have some left.  I figured it was some commercial brand that would be really expensive.  Nope.  Under $3 a can!  What?!  Sprayway Glass Cleaner – Zoro.com.  You can also order a 5-pack from Amazon for 10 bucks!  Are you kidding?!

Maybe the finish on your stainless steel is different, but if you’ve had trouble finding some that actually works, it’s worth a try for 3 bucks!  And, there is my cleaning tip of the year.

 

The Farmer and the Pig

When my son was very new to the world, my husband started telling him a story he made up.  It was called, “The Farmer and the Pig.”  Actually, it dsc_0737was many stories, they just always had the same title.  My son was too young to understand the stories.  He just liked the interaction.

A couple of weeks ago, I was having some trouble getting the kids to calm down for bed time.  I asked for an assist.  I requested that my husband tell the kids “The Farmer and the Pig”.  This was a new version.  The story ended with the food-_2011_11_18_0008farmer eating a ham sandwich.  A little dark to vegetarians, I imagine, but the kids found it entertaining.

They now want me to make up stories every night.  Often, they choose the characters, which are usually animals.  Sometimes they just want me to retell a movie (Finding Nemo and Finding Dori are favorites).  Last night, my daughter wanted a img_3122story about an ostrich and a penguin.  In what universe do these two animals interact?  The zoo, of course!

I’ll be honest.  Most of my stories are very stupid!  Here’s an example.  My daughter wanted me to tell a story about a whale shark and an octopus.  The whale shark’s name is Stella and the octopus’ name is Octi (the characters must have names . . . my son has a stuffed animal octopus he named Octi . . . ).  Stella swims up to Octi, because she wants to be friends.  Octi gets scared and inks Stella in the face.  The ink covers Stella’s eyes for a week, prohibiting her from even finding any food, because she can’t see anything.  Eventually, the ocean water washes the img_2698ink from Stella’s eyes so she can see again.

She sees Octi and swims up to talk again.  Octi inks again, but Stella manages to move before she gets hit in the face.  She says, “I just want to be your friend!  When you inked me last week, I couldn’t see for a week.  I couldn’t even find any food.  Why do you do that?”

Octi replies, “Because you are a shark and you just want to eat me!”

I’ll just jump to the end . . . Stella convinces Octi to give her a chance and Octi learns that Stella is a good friend.  They become friends forever and live happily ever after.  The end.

My daughter has asked me to tell this story several times.  She gets very upset if I miss a detail (Hmmm . . . I guess she really is listening.).

This activity has reminded me, with all of the stuff we do with our kids (vacations, trips to local museums, etc.), sometimes it’s the simplest things that create the most meaningful interactions.  No talent, training or entrance fee required.

 

 

Eyebrows Make a Difference

This is more superficial than most of my posts, but we all need some girly fun once in a while, don’t we?  Well, the gals do, anyway.

I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a total girly girl, but I do need to shower and put on some make-up to feel like myself.  I was a teenager in the 80’s, the era of AquaNet and eyebrow alteration. When Cyndi Lauper’s video, where she had her hair shaved in a pattern came out, a few girls in my Jr. High came to school with their eyebrows shaved in stripes.  One girl messed hers up, so she ended up shaving one eyebrow off completely.  Ahhh . . . memories.

We all tweezed our eyebrows to almost non-existence.  Now that the era is long gone, obviously I don’t do that anymore.  In the past, I would clean up the stray hair or two, but I didn’t give my eyebrows much attention.  As far as eyebrow pencil, I thought that was for old ladies.

Two or three years ago, during the height of my Pinterest addiction, I stumbled upon some articles and photos of the difference filling out your eyebrows can make. I realized we are in another era of full eyebrows, and I had missed the boat completely.

I have average eyebrows. I don’t have much gray hair, but I think my eyebrows have gotten lighter.  I looked at my eyebrows and even some photos, and realized they had gotten so light you could hardly see them.

So, I read some tips.  Some said to choose a color a shade lighter than your hair color, some the same shade and some darker.  Some say you should use powder instead of a pencil because you don’t want a line on your skin.  There is even eyebrow mousse.  But, I’m cheap, so I’ll use up my current pencil and maybe try something different later.

Now, I darken my eyebrows every day.  I ask my kids, after I’ve done one, which eyebrow looks better because I know they’ll be honest.  They always choose the darker one.  I thought it would be fun to do make-up on just one side of my face to show the difference.

img_3160First, a before photo, with no make-up.  I had my son take it.  He’s at a little bit of a distance and it’s not a very good camera, so I have a little silk screen effect, which I appreciate!

Now, for the half done photo.  It actually was kind of fun doing this.  I think the side with the eyebrow pencil looks better.  Of course, it’s a little bit of a cheat, because I have all of my make-up done on that side, not just the eyebrow pencil.  I use a pencil about the same shade, maybe a little darker, than my natural hair color.

This might actually be more work than tweezing because I do it every img_3165day, and I want it to look natural, so I take some care in making sure it’s just darkening the brows and not on my skin.

Just having a little fun, playing with make-up.  I wonder if I will every grow up?  Nah.  What fun would that be?

 

 

Let Me Tell You A Story

We have a full-time nurse at my work, because it can be a dangerous industry.  We have become friends, and she knew that I had started blogging.  A couple of months ago, she was kind enough to forward an email to me.  It was from StressStop and included an article titled “The Healing Power of Stories”.  It doesn’t state who wrote it, but the email is from a gentleman named Jim Porter.  I assume he is the author.  It’s so good, I really wanted to include a link, but it appears they email their articles, but don’t have them posted online anywhere.

The article is part of a series in which he tells about his experiences Fun Medical MGD©during a conference offered by the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses.  He reluctantly attended a keynote speech called “Inspired Nurses”, given by Rich Bluni, RN.

Mr. Porter retells part of the speech, which includes a heart-wrenching story.  The speaker, Mr. Bluni, said that nurses have the best stories.  I imagine that’s true.  I could not be a nurse.  I can handle my own blood, but not other people’s.  Just as importantly, I like to have an idea of what I’m in for when I get to work.  An ER nurse, for example, walks in having no idea what a shift will bring.  I also don’t think I would be able to leave that job at work.  I think even worse than being an ER nurse would be working as a hospice nurse, knowing that you will be dealing with death every day.  It takes some really special and extraordinary people to do those jobs.

While the conference was for nurses, the author mentions that story-telling is something that can connect people in all fields.  Mr. Porter states, “Rich Bluni was making the point that all of our lives are made up of stores, some sad, some inspiring, some frustrating and some humorous but ALL are life-giving when you share them.”

The nurse thought this applied to me, and my blogging.  Something came to my mind immediately.  I was in an ATV accident when I was 26.  I crushed my second lumbar.  You can imagine, it was a traumatic event.  I am very fortunate that I am able to walk and was able to carry two babies.  But, I have had three back surgeries, and suffer some physical effects.  Emotionally, I would say I did not handle things so well.  It took me longer than it should have to “deal” with some of those effects.

man-1454744_1920When she mentioned story-telling as a way of healing, I remembered how I would tell how my accident happened, in great detail, to anyone patient enough to listen.  I would tell it chronologically, from the events that day before it happened through to the end of my hospital stay, and even my trip home (I was on vacation when I had the accident).

I felt a compulsion to tell the story this way.  I suspect I’m not alone in this – that we are wired to retell a traumatic event, and it is a part of our healing.

But, he also points out that when we tell complaining or negative stories, those are “crumbling bricks”.  Perhaps that’s why telling that story didn’t build me up or help me to heal.  I didn’t yet have the maturity to focus on the positives in that experience, and there were some.  The solid bricks are the ones “where you helped someone, or comforted someone or cured someone . . . those are the rock-solid bricks that cure you.”

I partially decided to start blogging because I had gotten positive responses from some rather lengthy facebook posts.  The posts were from the heart, leaving me a bit vulnerable.  But, they were things I felt nagging at me, distracting me, until I wrote them.  In these stories, I always had a positive message, which is probably why I got a positive charge from the interaction and connection they sparked.

I have some hurt I have not written about on my blog.  I’ve touched on it here and there, but I haven’t gotten to the heart of it.  As I have said before, if I’m going to make this blog worthwhile, I have to keep it real and make myself vulnerable.  However, some of my hurt overlaps with the pain of others who may not want their story told on the internet.  I also have not come to a place where the focus would be positive.  So, it feels like a crumbling brick.  While I do this blog because I enjoy it, and I find writing therapeutic, I also would like to get to a point where I make some money.  Writing about something very personal, without including something positive or helpful, feels exploitative somehow.

But, perhaps the healing comes as you tell or write the story.  I sometimes begin writing with the germ of an idea, and it develops as I write it.  I find the positive in the sharing.  Maybe some things have to be written only for the eyes of those closest to you.  Maybe through that process it can become something worth sharing with wider audience, that helps and creates a connection.  Time will tell where my next compulsion takes me.

 

A Kitty Cat’s Tale (Pun Intended)

Last weekend was rather bizarre.  On Saturday night, my son, daughter and I were in my son’s room, going through our usual bedtime routine.  We were just finishing up story time when I heard what I thought was an animal outside.  We live in a development in the country.  We’re three miles from a town of about 3000.  I have seen coyotes across the road, heard owls in the woods behind our house, and the sound of the frogs from the pond is almost frighteningly loud some nights.  So, it’s not unusual to hear animal noises at night (although some of them freak me out).  But, this one was different, and very close.

After telling my children to be quiet several times, I finally said, “I think I hear a cat.”  That was effective in getting them to hush.  My son went to the window and listened.  Then he said, “That sounded just like a person saying ‘Meow!'”  I just wanted to get the kids to go to sleep.  I told them it was just a stray or a wild cat and it would go away.

I usually lie next to my son until he falls asleep, because he doesn’t go to sleep easily on his own.  I fall asleep next to him about a third of the time.  I was dozing off when I heard the dog going nuts.  The door to my son’s room opened, and with the hall light on, I could see the silhouette of my husband holding a cat.  I bolted up.

“What are you doing!?”

“I opened the door and it came in.”

“It could have rabies or some other disease!  I don’t want it in the house!  Put it outside!”

So, he did.  And the cat stood outside the front door, at times even leaning on the door meowing, for an hour or two.  The dog stood at the door, scratching and sometimes barking.  The cat was not phased.  I turned the lights down, hoping it would just go away.  Sometimes, I would look out and say, “Go away!”

I probably sound like a real grouch.  I’m not a cat person.  I don’t hate cats; I even had one as a kid.  I just prefer dogs. And, of course, I was concerned about the safety of my dog, my kids and my house.

A couple of hours later, my husband came out of the bedroom, and said, “Come and look at this guy.”  The cat had climbed the 6 foot fence in the back yard and made himself at home on the railing of our deck.  It was the first time I noticed how pretty she was.  A black cat.  She appeared to still be a kitten.  She didn’t look dirty or scary.  Still, I wanted her to go away.  I did my best to ignore her, in spite of the dog’s continued excitement.

The next morning, my husband looked out and thought the cat had left.  But, he finally saw her, curled up in a planter.  It was Sunday morning, and we needed to get ready for church, but everyone was distracted.  The cat did not appear to be diseased.  I decided we could go outside and see her.  She had two rather strange tufts of white/gray fur behind each ear.  She was very friendly and sweet.  She rubbed up against our legs and climbed onto the kids’ laps.  My son was so happy with her curled up on his lap, and said, “She likes me.”  Many times, he said, “I like this cat.”  Finally, he said, “I love this cat!”  At this point, even though we had not fed her, I knew she was not going away on her own.  We would have to call animal control (do they even come out to the country?), or make her a pet.  I didn’t see any middle ground.

We decided we were going to have to see how the cat and dog would get along.  We let the dog out, and the cat hissed, and scratched up my husband’s hand, then jumped off the deck.  The dog bolted down the deck stairs.  Before he was even at the bottom, the cat had already climbed back up a pole and was back on the deck where she started, leaving the dog below sniffing around trying to find her.  The dog looked pretty dumb.

We were leaving for church, and I told my husband, “If the cat is still here when we get home, we’ll have to decide if we’re going to keep her, and if she’s going to be an outdoor or indoor cat.  She’ll need to be taken to the vet and checked out tomorrow.”

IMG_3214
No turning back now.

We got home from church, and the cat was in the back yard.  My husband said something about feeding her, and I told him, “When you do that, you will be committing to keeping this cat.”  He was aware.  We looked out and saw the cat eating a cicada.  Gross.  Poor kitty was obviously hungry.  Fine.  Feed her.  My husband gave her a can of tuna.  She was ours now, but I didn’t want her in the house until she’d been to the vet.

The cat ran up a tree and my husband got the ladder and fetched her . . . the first time.  Around 2:00, my daughter accidentally let the dog out.  This time the cat went about 25 feet up the tree.  There was no way to get to her.  Our tallest ladder is only 10 feet.

My son was very worried, and would update me about how long she had been in the tree.  His Dad and I kept telling him that she would come down when she was ready.  But, I thought she wanted to come down; she was scared.  Then, it started to rain.  I figured that would surely get her down.  I opened the window and heard her meowing.  We talked of calling the fire department, but thought that only worked in old TV shows.  With the backyard fence, and the ground being uneven, we didn’t see how a firetruck could get back there anyway.

It started to lightning and the wind picked up.  I saw her being blown around and I was afraid she was going to fall.  I said a prayer, asking God to keep this cat safe.  She started to climb down, but only about 3 feet.  Still too high to reach.  She sat in a crook in the tree for a while longer, then went down a few more feet.  I could no longer see her.  I tried shining a flashlight out the window, but the glare of the screen made it impossible to see outside.  She’d been in the tree about 5 hours by this time.  I thought she may be low enough that I could coax her down.  I wasn’t going to climb up the metal ladder in a lightning storm.  I wasn’t feeling too hopeful, but I put on my shoes and went out in the rain.

When I got to the tree, she was too high to reach.  I called to her, and she looked desperate to get to me.  She climbed down another few feet and then clung to the tree.  Standing on my toes, I could just reach her, but she had a grip on the tree.  I said, “Let go.  I’ve got you.”  To my surprise, she did.  Both of us wet, we made our way to the family who was excitedly waiting for us.  She slept in the house that night, in an animal crate my husband had from a previous pet.  We sat it on top of the dog’s crate, and neither animal made a peep all night.  Other than the trip to the vet, the cat has not left the house since.

Her name is Patches because of the two white tufts behind her ears.  I IMG_3232would have chosen something else, but I’ve vetoed most pet names my husband has come up with.  In an effort not to be such a control freak, I’m getting used to it.  The dog and cat are getting used to each other.  Duke seems to love Patches, and Patches tolerates Duke.  She also IMG_3247tolerates my daughter picking her up every 30 seconds.

As I’ve been writing this, Patches has been sitting on the couch arm snuggling up to my back.  Don’t tell, but I think she likes me best.  An even bigger secret . . . I like her too.